Engineering UD's Future
Heading toward his junior year as the president, Pat Harker is forming partnerships that will give the school an international reputation. (If it can just get its hands on that Chrysler plant…)
(page 3 of 6)
“At a time when there is economic hardship, we attach the highest priority to ensuring that a UD education is affordable to students,” says Harker. “If necessary, we will reallocate funds from other purposes to make sure this happens.”
As it shores up its local constituency, the university is courting additional global partners and broadcasting a message that this small-state school has assets equal to anyone’s. The argument is simple: UD’s past performance justifies greater prestige, which should lead to more opportunity. “We’re much better than our press clippings,” says Harker.
The Path to Prominence intends to create a formidable legacy. Cosgrove and the trustees want to see UD’s reputation comparable to, say, the University of Virginia’s, maybe even to that of much larger Michigan State and Ohio State.
The mission is for the university “to be recognized around the world as one of the great public institutions of higher education in America.”
Playing for the Fighting Rams of Gloucester Catholic at home in New Jersey and the Quakers of the University of Pennsylvania, Patrick Timothy Harker was considering pro football before injuries ended the dreams of a defensive tackle. His second passion was engineering. He was first-generation college and had “no intention of being an academic.” His father was a pipe fitter.
Nonetheless, academics were in Harker’s future. He worked as a consulting engineer and earned a doctorate in engineering and a master’s in economics before joining the faculty of Penn’s Wharton School of Business in 1984. Seven years later, at age 32, he became the youngest ever awarded an endowed professorship at Wharton. That same year, he was named a White House Fellow, placing him squarely in the middle of discussions among national leaders. He calls the experience “life changing.”
“I had been happy as a faculty member doing research,” Harker says. “Now I learned I had these skills.”
Namely leadership skills. Post-White House, Harker’s professional profile began to change. Back at Penn, he chaired a department in the School of Engineering, then Wharton’s information management department. When both the dean and deputy dean of Wharton announced they were stepping down, Harker helped mount a search for replacements. Soon enough, he became a replacement.
During Harker’s seven years as Wharton’s dean, the faculty grew and meshed, arguably, into the best in the business. Rejuvenated alumni stimulated fundraising and recruitment, and they mentored students. Capital campaigns netted $445 million, funding new facilities and endowing chairs and scholarships.
Page 4: Engineering UD's Future, continues...